9-year-old Nidhi Gupta (name changed) is ecstatic. She has finally got to experience an artwork by Jamini Roy – an artist whose career trajectory she knows by heart now. “One of my friends is an art student and she talks endlessly about him,” gushes Gupta, a Political Science student. However, before today, Gupta had never got access to his work. The reason?
Her sight is partially impaired.
Lack of tactile aids at museums and galleries in India have denied an entire section of society the pleasure of experiencing fine art. However, change is on the anvil, and it’s all happening at DAG Modern’s two booths at the India Art Fair.
Here – for the first time in India – a tactile artwork viewing experience has been created for the visually impaired. It means you can actually touch, feel and sense the painting, the material used and the form of lines through palpable reproductions of the artworks.
Of Practical Solutions – Beyond the Romantic
Aptly titled Abhas, this pilot project has been created by Access Logic and Logistics (ALL) for the DAG. The team of Siddhant Shah and Elizabeth Forrestall has been working on creating similar experiences at the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Jaipur City Palace.
“Sometimes people get romantic about the idea of making spaces accessible for the physically challenged. But we have tried to offer practical solutions,” says Forrestall, who has a masters degree in gallery and museum education from Canada.
Abhas has helped visitors like Gupta experience four selected artworks – two paintings and two sculptures, including the masterpiece Jala Bindu by S H Raza and the 1933-woodcut work by Roy.
The tactile work for Three drummers, yet another landmark work by Roy, is proving very popular as well. Shah, a heritage architect and access consultant, leads groups from various Delhi-based associations for the blind through the aids.
One – a board tinged with yellow – allows the group to get a sense of earthiness that is synonymous with Roy’s depiction of rural Bengal. Another aid – gouache on cardboard – features the same material used in the original artwork.